Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) contribute significantly to the quest for a NetZero home, a residence that produces as much energy as it consumes. NetZero designs rely on two key components, 1) the use of renewable energy on-site, and 2) excellent insulation.

On March 27, 2017, the Insulating Concrete Forms Manufacturers Association (ICFMA) released findings of an accredited study comparing the energy efficiency of traditional 2” x 6” wood cavity walls and ICF walls. The ICFMA is a non-profit trade association founded in 2014. Its North American membership includes ICF manufacturers who promote the advantages of ICF construction.  

CLEB Laboratories was commissioned to conduct the study. It is a UL company with primary offices in Ottawa, New York, Montreal, Chicago, Truro and Quebec City. The ICF study represents the first in a series of planned whole wall thermal studies. It is the very first time a SCC & ISO-accredited testing facility comprehensively tested these two wall assemblies side-by-side.  

Research Methodology

Researchers compared the performance of a standard 2” X 6” insulated wood cavity wall with a standard 6-inch ICF wall. The study was commissioned in part to respond to an ongoing desire for definitive proof that ICF walls produce significant energy savings and increased R-values.   


  • The ICF wall reduced energy usage 60 percent compared to the wood cavity wall.
  • The effective R-value of the ICF wall was 58 percent greater than that of the traditional 2” X 6” stud wall.
  • The superior thermal mass of the ICF wall may save $140 to $190 per month in electricity costs in extremely cold weather.

This research clearly demonstrates how ICF construction can significantly reduce energy use, a critical component in the pursuit of NetZero performance.

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